“Go clean your room!” every good mom says.  I never say that.  Reason why?  I don’t care.  I’m too tired.

“It’s my room!” Declan says.  I correct him immediately.

“It’s not your room,” I say.  “It’s mine.  I pay the mortgage.  I let you use it to hold your things.”

Just so long as those things don’t invade my sanity, I’m okay.  They usually don’t–I’m pretty laid back.  Even when there’s clay smashed into the rug, or I step on a Lego, I’m pretty cool.

Two or three times a year, though, I get the mood to declutter–not because I mind clutter, but because I watched too many tiny house shows and imagine, “What if I need to pack up and move to a yurt.  None of this stuff will fit.”  It’s not reasonable, I know.  It’s my own obsession–a bad economy combined with the Irish self-deprecating worry gene is responsible.  I look around and say, “Everything must go!”

What’s essential?  Coffee, laptop, photos, an outfit or two.  Nothing more!

Even though I know it’s unreasonable, obsessive even, I must take advantage of these rare, rare moods because once they leave they may never come for a long time, and things pile up around me.

Declan’s room fell victim.  Time to clean.

“Go play Minecraft.” I said.

My plan: Enjoy cleaning.  Drink tea and throw stuff out while he’s not looking.  I sort the things he loves and toss the dead banana peel, vacuum the spiders, make faces at the unmentionables, and toss the bags of puzzle pieces that lost their friends.

I was a little relieved not to find dead bodies.

“It gets this way because you don’t enforce things.”  It’s true.  I don’t.  After three years of two-hour homework battles, there’s only so much I choose to enforce after a full day teaching and enforcing at work.  I’d like to enforce some sanity and a little relaxation upon myself instead.

Yes, I’m the mom that never cared about the messy room, or the dinner schedule, or much more than good manners and trying one’s best.

I look at the good parents out there–the ones with kids who have inspection-ready rooms 24/7.  The kids who shower daily and don’t wear their shirts backwards or the same clothes to school two days in a row.  I have one friend with several kids, each of whom has little screen time, does extra academic work, reads, plays sports year round, and is polite 100% the time.

That’s good parenting.

I’m too tired.  Mediocre parenting will have to do.

I stand in the room to enjoy the clean space I’ve made. I know it won’t stay that way for long but for now,  I feel better than a mediocre mom.  I feel, for a moment, like a good mom.

“Look, I found your favorite dinosaur,” I said after I snuck all the garbage bags into the garage.   I wanted to focus on the positive–the toys he regained rather than the bags out in the trash.   Good parenting isn’t about discipline, it’s all marketing.

“Thanks, Mom!” he said.  “You found my dominoes, too.  Want to play?”


I pause for a moment to play.  Then onto the next room purge.  For now, I get to enjoy the treasures I’ve found.


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